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January 31st, 2014

Brrrrrr! It’s cold this winter, so we’ve chosen an appropriate snow-covered image for this year’s February wallpaper that includes a lot of (weather-related) days to look forward to.
Of course, Sunday is the Big Game day, but it’s also Groundhog Day, when the shadow of a common earth rodent (basically a large squirrel) determines if we’ll have another six weeks of this cold nonsense or not.
Don’t forget about the Feast of St. Blaise on February 3 — if you’re under the weather or have had to miss work (like some of us unfortunately have,) you should be looking forward to this saint’s feast day where you can head to your local Catholic church and receive a special…

January 29th, 2014

January is drawing to a close, which means football season is as well. For some, this is a bittersweet time, full of Super Bowl fervor followed by a hollowness that cannot be filled until the draft starts up in May (or at least until SportsCenter begins avidly discussing new prospects later in February). But for others, myself included, the Super Bowl is a time of dread. This year, with Super Bowl XLVIII coming to my city, I cannot be less enthusiastic about a bunch of burly men rolling around on some fake grass. And with a snowy polar vortex in full swing, I think we already have enough to worry about without traffic jams, crazed fans, and the “NFL Experience” taking over the New York metropolitan area.
If you’re…

January 27th, 2014

We often hear of things being super, but how super are they really? Superstorm Sandy was not any fun for people in the Northeast. Superman isn’t even a real human person, only a character of comic and film fiction. And the Super Mario Bros. don’t have anything on me and my two brothers. (Please… we can jump higher and grow better mustaches.) But the Super Bowl? That might actually be worthy of being called “super.”
It’s Super Pop Cultural
Although the Super Bowl is really just a football game, is it so much more than that. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched athletic events on television every year. It carries with it many pop subcultures. Super Bowl commercials are often more watched and talked…

January 22nd, 2014

When I was diagnosed with pericarditis — an inflammation of the fibrous sac around the heart — while volunteering in Peru, the reaction of a number of people surprised me. Until that point, most of my Peruvian friends had demonstrated no medical proclivity whatsoever. Suddenly, I had no shortage of people anxious to share any tidbit of therapeutic information they could.
“You’re lonely,” said some. “You need a girlfriend. Or more male friends.” While I appreciated their concern that I was living with four female roommates, this theory seemed to fall short in explaining how my heart’s membrane swelled to unhealthy proportions.
“You are so skinny,” offered the cooks at the parish…

January 15th, 2014
Making the most of a day off courtesy of Mother Nature

When I was a teacher, I used to view snow days very differently. Each time school was called off, I’d feel like I was back in my twin-sized bed, under flannel sheets, in my Garfield nightgown, with my mom peeking through my bedroom door to deliver the good news before going to work. Few experiences could transport me back to childhood so quickly in my adult life as having a snow day, even if I was the one, now, in front of a room full of squirrelly students saying, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to listen to the news tomorrow morning,” secretly praying for school to be called off and just as excited.
In my years after teaching, I started working another job and began commuting to work. Snow days quickly…

January 14th, 2014
An examination of letting go and surrendering to God even when you’re terrified

Imagine a moment of complete free fall.
If you have ever experienced that jolt in your gut, that razor chill throughout your body, that overwhelming instant when everything pauses in a moment of pure terror as you let go of the edge … you know what I’m describing. This is the body kicking into survival mode. I feel it when I go cliff-jumping in Muskoka, ride the Drop Zone at Wonderland, and every time I endure a major life transition. Can I reasonably compare a physical free fall to an emotional one? Yes. Yes I can.
Recall a moment of surrender of your own: waiting for that phone call, letting go of a breakup, not knowing if you’ll pass a class, finding out you or a loved one is ill, wondering where your life will go…

January 13th, 2014

Then came The Fall, which is what I like to call what happened when I was 26 and my metabolism turned on me like Benedict Arnold — or Judas Iscariot if you prefer to keep things biblical. I didn’t realize it right away; I never weighed myself and I ignored the pleas of the waistlines of my jeans and khakis, while stuffing myself into them until the buttons inevitably popped off in exasperation; at which point I would just curse shoddy workmanship and dig through my closet for yet another pair of pants whose seams I could stretch to their farthest limits.
It was only after my doctor gingerly informed me that I was clinically overweight that I began to consider the idea that I was … well … clinically overweight.…

January 9th, 2014

I am a little ashamed to tell you that I cannot recall what my New Year’s resolutions were three-hundred-sixty-some days ago. My forgetfulness reminds me of high school, when I had a part in a skit for a New Year’s program that was modeled after Saturday Night Live. My favorite was “Mr. Short-Term Memory.” The original character was played brilliantly by Tom Hanks and written by an up-and-coming comedian named Conan O’Brien. I loved the episode where Tom Hanks went to dinner and kept having moments of exasperation where he would question who put food in front of him or what was just said in the conversation. I’m not sure our high school version lived up.
I took the kids when they…

January 8th, 2014
Don't make just another New Year's resolution. Change a daily habit -- and improve your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Lately, New Year’s resolutions have been getting a bad rap. And sure, the ubiquitous weight-loss goal is easy to ridicule, since it always seems to fail.
The essential problem is that New Year’s resolutions are big, dramatic, turning-point goals. But our health is not a matter of big dramatic choices we make. Instead, it’s all about the habits we slide into.
Yet a “new year” still holds so much inherent appeal — the feeling that things can be different, that we can make a fresh start.
You can have the best of both worlds. Why not apply the momentum of the new year to a realistic habit change?
After all, when you find ways to improve your physical well-being, your mental and spiritual well-being will…

January 3rd, 2014

Back in December of 2003, about a month before I travelled to South Africa to work in schools as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years, I found myself watching Malcolm X…, Spike Lee’s fantastic 3-hour biopic on the civil rights leader. Much to my surprise, the end of the film cut from a scene in an American classroom with a teacher and her students to a classroom in South Africa, filled with young learners, and helmed by none other than (former at the time of my viewing, future at the time of the film’s original 1992 release date,) President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. I was a little shocked to see this great man standing in the middle of a classroom that looked nearly identical to ones I would be spending

January 2nd, 2014

“I’m no beauty. I’m no genius. I can’t sing. I can’t dance,” Marcia Wallace said years ago at a speaking engagement in Indiana, “But, it was clear to me early on that I had a couple of things that have held me in very good stead as I have approached life’s challenges, that is tenacity… and a sense of humor.”
Bellowing that unforgettable “Ha!” trademarked in both of her major character roles, this self-possessed, big-haired and big-eyed wag proudly sprung from Creston, Iowa, taught us to believe in the healing and motivating power of laughter.
She celebrated an enduring career in television that spanned more than 60 years and bravely…

January 1st, 2014
A Christmas surprise for the next 12 days!

January 1st, 2014

Music has always been an integral part of my life. My brother, father and I all sing. Growing up, my parents had me listening to everyone from Queen to Frank Sinatra. I have been lucky to have so much laughter, joy and music in my life. When the television show Glee premiered in 2009, I was intrigued by the characters, the comedy and, of course, the music. Cory Monteith played Finn Hudson on the show, a football player who was goofy and gullible. He was so genuine and sang with such power, that you often forgot his many shortcomings. His love interest on the show, Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michelle, was Cory’s real life girlfriend.
In the tribute episode to Cory, it is not Rachel you see but Lea, distraught over the loss…

January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year!
It’s the first day of 2014 and time for our latest desktop, keeping you in the know about all the important spiritual days in January — one of the most important being January 1st. No, not New Year’s Day, it’s the holy day of obligation celebrating Mary the Mother of God.
Have a great January, and a great year.

The wallpaper is available in sizes that will fit both widescreen and full screen monitors, as well as mobile devices. Download the files directly below, mark your calendar, and enjoy this easy way to stay aware of important feasts and holy days heading your way.
Download:
16:9 [2560 x 1440] · 16:10 [2560 x 1600] · 4:3 [2400 x 1800] · mobile [640 x 1136]…

December 31st, 2013
College football bowl games capture the joy and hope of the holiday season

We are in the midst of a very special season of the year: College Football Bowl Season. Rarely do non-professional sports dominate American culture more than during the slew of college football bowl games that occur around Christmas and the New Year. As a college football fan, I have always enjoyed watching and attending bowl games regardless of who was playing. I’ve often observed bowl games as rather joyful experiences and filled with hope. Regardless of the trials and tribulations of the season, or if each team was playing in their most desired bowl game, teams and players always seem pretty jazzed to be playing in the game. They always give it their all and are dedicated to doing their best to bring home a victory.…

December 31st, 2013

Crush-worthy actors are everywhere to be seen in Southern California, where I live and work in the entertainment industry. Let’s be real: The guys out here with “boy next door” good looks tend to be much more attractive than most people’s next-door neighbors! That was certainly true of the late Paul Walker, best known for starring in the Fast & Furious films.
Don’t forget he also played a succession of studs in fan faves like The Young and the Restless, Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and Joy Ride. Walker’s classic movie-idol perfection came complete with surfer blond hair, cerulean blue eyes, and a gregarious smile that conveyed both sexiness and likability. Before he died, the 40-year-old…

December 30th, 2013

As we look back over 2013, we’re reminded of all of the great stories, columns, blog posts, podcasts, brackets, and videos we’ve published.
Here are the editors’ picks for “Best of 2013.”
What was your favorite Busted Halo feature in 2013?

“Francis Is a Rock Star” by Michael O’Loughlin
Well, it’s official. Pope Francis is a hit. Esquire magazine, not exactly an outlet that praises the Catholic Church on a regular basis, highlighted some of the reasons why Francis is so “awesome”: “He has said that he believes priests should be ‘shepherds with the smell of the sheep’ and he is living that way.” (continue reading here)

“Living the Questions: A Twentysomething’s Battle…

December 27th, 2013

“Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”… (Mark 10:15)
It is often said that children are closest to God; that through their wonder at the world, care for others and genuine joy, we are reminded of the way God wants us to view His creation and treat each other. For many of us, the movies and television we watched when we were little can be a powerful gateway back to our own childhood — things like Sesame Street and The Muppets in particular have the power to bring us back to the way we saw the world back then. Muppets of all kinds are more than pervasive in my home— from summer trips to Sesame Place with my 7-year-old little sister (and my 14-year-old little

December 27th, 2013

Many figures in pop culture are simply blips on our radar — people we acknowledge for a moment and then forget about. A select few, however, rise above the rest and take on the status of heroes. For me, Roger Ebert is in the latter category.
I discovered Ebert as an impressionable 10-year-old, already dazzled by the magic of the movies. Watching him debate the merits of new films with his partner, Richard Roeper, on “Ebert & Roeper,” I gained a deeper understanding of how movies were made and how to think critically about them.
With the advent of YouTube, I was able to watch classic clips of Ebert and his original foil, Gene Siskel, discussing the movies of the 1980s and 1990s. This enabled me to discover…

December 26th, 2013

As the year draws to a close let’s take a look back over the events of 2013 and remember the things that we have lost over the past 12 months (some for the better). Whether they left us cheering or jeering, here are 13 “endings” from 2013. What would you add to the list?
Breaking Bad — After five seasons watching the exploits (and tragic downward spiral) of chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White, fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad finally got to see how the story ends. Though we had to bid Walter White and Jesse Pinkman goodbye when the final episode aired September 29, there is some good news for Breaking Bad addicts: AMC is moving forward with a spin-off series, Better Call Saul, based on lawyer Saul Goodman…

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